Malayan Spurge

Family • Euphorbiaceae - Euphorbia antiquorum - TRIANGULAR SPURGE

Scientific names

Euphorbia antiquorum

Common names

Indian spurge (Engl.) Triangular milkwort (Engl.)
Malayan spurge (Engl.) Triangular splurge (Engl.)
Square spurge (Engl.) Tridhara (Hindi.)
Square milk hedge (Engl.)

General info 
· There are more than 2,000 species of Euphorbia worldwide. A significant number are succulent, all contain latex and have a unique flower structure. Although it is present in many traditional medicinal systems, nearly all possess poison or toxicity.

Malayan Spurge

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Basic Info / Euphorbia

(2) Ethnoveterinary healthcare practices in southern districts of Tamil Nadu / S. Ganesan et al / Indian J. Traditional knowledge Vol 7, No2, April 2008

(3) Eupha-7,9(11),24-trien-3beta-ol (“antiquol C”) and other triterpenes from Euphorbia antiquorum latex and their inhibitory effects on Epstein-Barr virus activation / Akihisa T, Kithsiri Wijeratne EM et al / J Nat Prod 2002 Feb;65(2):158-62

(4) Insecticidal activity of Euphorbia antiquorum L. latex and its preliminary chemical analysis / WAPP de Silva, GK Manuweera, SHPP Karunaratne / J.Natn.Sci.Foundation Sri Lanka 2008 36 (1): 15-23

(5) Truangular splurge / Flowers of India

(6) Constituents of the latex of Euphorbia antiquorum / Mohan B Gewali, Masao Hattori et al / Phytochemistry Volume 29, Issue 5, 1990, Pages 1625-1628 / doi:10.1016/0031-9422(90)80134-3

· Succulent woody shrubs 1 to 3 cm high with milky sap. Mature stem cylindrical in shape with 3 to 6 ridges; younger branches green with 3 to 5 ridges. The projection of the ridges armed with a pair of 2 to 3 mm long spines.
· Leaves: few, borne on the ridges, succulent, obovate to oblanceolate to spathulate in shape. Apex obtuse with a small pointed projection, base gradually narrowing downward, sessile. Deciduous.
· Flowers: male flower with only 1 stamen, filament short; female flower situated alone at the center of the cyathium, protruding beyond the involucre. Styles 3, not joined to each other, each style forking towards the tip. Yellowish-green, monoecious inflorescence, composed of several staminate (male) flowers and one pistillate (female) flower borne on a green, hemispherical involucre. The whole cuplike cymose inflorescence is called cyathium.
· Fruits: glabrous, smooth, about 1 cm in diameter.
Malayan Spurge2

Malayan Spurge4Distribution
Widely cultivated throughout the Philippines as an ornamental but may occasionally be found as an escape from cultivation.

– From the latex, study isolated three new triterpenes, euphol-3-O-cinnamate, antiquol A and antiquol B, with known triterpenes, euphol, 24-methylenecycloartanol and cycloeucalenol; together with a nonacosene, sitosterol and p-acetoxyphnol.

Parts utilized
· Stem.
· Collected the whole year round.
· Remove cortex after harvest, cut into sections, roast in frying pan till brownish-yellow.

· Bitter tasting, cooling effect.
· Stomachic, antifebrile, antiphlogistic, anti-infectious, antidermatosis.

· Acute gastroenteritis: use 3 to 6 gms dried materials in decoction.
· Malignant furuncle and carbuncle infections: use pounded fresh stem (quantity sufficient) and apply as poultice.
· Scabies, various dermatoses: apply sap over afflicted areas.
· In India, Juice of plant used for chest pains and constipation. Latex applied to boils for early suppuration and healing. Bark is used as purgative. Latex used for klling wound maggots. Saline extract used as antibiotic.
• Milk of E. antiquorum is applied near to eyes for cattle to treat conjunctivitis and corneal opacities.
• Milk is applied to the neck and joints of cattle to treat black quarter.
• In Northeast India, one of the Euphorbia species used to ward off evil spirits.

Caution ! 
• This drug is toxic. Frying neutralizes the toxin, after which it can be taken orally. However, excessive dosage may still cause diarrhea.
• The milky sap or latex, which is also poisonous, must not come in contact with the eyes; skin contact with this sap may cause skin inflammation. Take caution too that this is not administered to pregnant patients.

Study Findings
• Anti-Epstein Barr Virus Activation: Study yielded three triterpene alcohols from the latex. Some compounds showed potent inhibitory effects on Epstein-Barr virus early antigen activation.
• Hepatoprotective / Antioxideant: Study of aqueous extract of the aerial parts of Euphorbia antiquorum showed significant antioxidant activity and also significant dose-dependent hepatoprotection, effects comparable to Silymarin and Sodium metabisulphite. The results helps justify its traditional use for treating jaundice.
• Insecticidal: Study of the insecticidal properties of EA showed the components were best extracted by xylene. The xylene-latex extract was highly toxic to soft bodied insects / spiders. On storage, both the xylene-latex extract and the n-hexane fraction were still highly stable with only a 3 % decline of activity after one year.